SLIDER

Going to a gig in a foreign country

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

I've already spent a whole load of time in Thailand but once I found out that Bring Me The Horizon were playing in Bangkok during the dates I wanted to travel, there was no question about the destination of my very last minute holiday! Flying across the world to see my favourite band play live is now something I will always be proud of myself for doing, by myself.

Being in a country where English isn't their Mother Tongue, (that was a bring me the horizon pun guys sorry haha) it wasn't quite so simple; but I wouldn't exactly say it was hard either so I wanted to share my experience for anyone nervous to do the same!



No one in Bangkok center had heard of the venue and a lot of the local taxi drivers refused to even acknowledge me when I asked. Google was also not much help so in the end, I just put the address into Grab and hoped for the best.

We went about half hour out of town but I knew I was in the right place when I spotted a humongous line of people queuing along a road, totally dressed in black. I didn't realise they had such a big Thai following.



The venue itself was awesome. An open air arena; just off of the motorway by the side of a big mall I think. I was just glad that it even existed by the time I got there.

I guess I took it for granted that most of places in Thailand are well catered for English speakers but what I hadn't planned for was the fact that everything was in Thai - I mean I was one of about 5 white people there so it made sense - there was no need for English. I soon realised that if I wanted to know what was going on I was just going to have to ask people - which I did. New found confidence that came with solo travel definitely helped.

This lead me to meet Aida, another girl wandering around alone, also as confused as me - but she was Thai, which was a real help, at least she could understand what was going on. We stuck together for the rest of the night.



I had no idea what was happening when one of the staff ushered us from the back of the very long queue to the ticket pick up point but obviously I wasn't going to stop her. I did have a mini panic when I got to the front of the queue and they asked for ID, which I didn't have but they were happy with a photo of my passport so it was short lived.

We got our tickets and since somehow skipping about a 3000 people in that queue, ran straight up to the front gates of our zone. I was worried about getting stuck in a mosh pit so being right at the front of the zone definitely helped me feel safer - turns out that the Thai crowd are nowhere near as rowdy as Londoners so it wasn't a problem anyway.



For BMTH fans, it wasn't part of the Amo tour so they played a whole load of songs from different albums which was amazing because their new stuff sounds SO different from the older songs. They opened with their new song, Ludens which means I was there for its first live performance. Pretty cool.

Afterwards, Aida and I swapped Instagram's and followed the crowd outside. She took me to the taxi rank and made sure I found a cab before she got a train home which was really sweet.

Getting back to the city center was much easier. After haggling with the driver to less than half of what he wanted, he dropped me off back to Khao San Road and then locked me in the car since I didn't have the right change. Not quite as terrifying as it sounds - he took my 1000 baht note and ran into 711 to get change, smiling and waving at me from the counter.

After giving him some cash, I took the rest of my money for noodles and bubble tea as I walked back to my hostel.

5 Highlights from my recent solo adventure in Thailand

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

My recent trip to Thailand was short; but very sweet. With limited days this time around, I felt like I made the most of each one where as I'll admit in the past, sometimes I took my privileged situation of long term travel for granted. Every day had something fun going on but here were some of my favourite parts.



Seeing One Of My Best Friends 

James was the first person I ever met when I went backpacking and one of the few I still speak to today,. Three years later, like me, he's been forwards and backwards all over the place but we always seem to miss each. He's currently settled in Pai, working at a hostel so I made time to go and hang out with him for a few days.



Thai Festivities

Doing this the first time around was one of my all time favourite travel highlights so having to opportunity to go back and experience it again was a blessing. It was just as magical as the first time. I wrote a whole post about it here.


Pool Day

I'm a big city girl when so I don't spend much of my time travelling, relaxing in a bikini; although a few days into my trip, I started to feel like I was doing too much and burning out a little bit so I took some time off.

I snuck into a hotel and used their gym and then their pool and honestly it was so refreshing just to pretend I was on a normal, relaxing holiday for a few hours. I had the best afternoon and went back to hostel feeling refreshed and ready for the next adventure.



Making New Friends

Meeting people is one of the best parts of backpacking and my favourite night out on this trip was with 4 total strangers who I met during my trip! Three of them I found at my hostel in Bangkok but one of them, August, I met on my first night in Pai so it was awesome to reunite before he flew home.




BMTH Live in Bangkok

Definite highlight, not just of this trip, but of my life. My favourite band, live, on the other side of the world; plus going on my own meant I made a couple of new Thai friends who I plan to see next time I'm in Bangkok.


What are some of your travel highlights?

The Bali Flower Bath: Instagram vs Reality

Monday, 6 January 2020

Smoothie bowls, rice paddies scooter rides and flower baths; did you even go to Bali if you're Instagram isn't plastered with these things by the time you leave?

Flower baths seem to had blown up in 2019 and as I travel blogger, I took it upon myself to go and on a little solo adventure and indulge myself, so I could share my experience here, naturally.

Well let me tell you, they aren't all they're cracked up to be, from my experience anyway; but cute photo hey?



A lot of the little spas that line the streets of Bali offer flower baths but it wasn't what I wanted. I had a scene set in my head and I was going to chase that - for as cheap as I could. I wanted traditional Balinese, outdoors - overlooking the rice paddies and it had to be instagrammable - it's a lot harder to find that you'd expect when you're not willing to pay too much. As flower bath massages go, I went for a mid priced experience although it was the cheapest one that ticked all my boxes otherwise it was a normal bathtub in the back of a salon somewhere.

I came across Sedona spa and it seemed to have everything I was after. It was a beautiful setting, outside in the rice paddies just on the outskirts of the city and I was able to walk there from my accommodation. I also liked that you didn't need to book with them, you could just turn up and get started.

Their treatment list was great too. With a lot of places, you'd need to book a massage and the flower bath part separately and that's why it ended up costing so much. Sedona had a whole section just of these type experiences. All different smells and flavours but all basically the same thing: massage, scrub, bath. 

I went for the Green Tea Bath - RP 210.000 (£11.50)

A relaxing one hour massages using a combination of techniques. Our special body scrub with a natural “Green Tea ingredients follow a natural yogurt and honey moisturizer will refresh, soften & rejuvenate your skin cells. Green Tea contains powerful antioxidants; reduce acne, cellulite and the formation of stretch mark. Finally, you immerse yourself in a bath of exotic flowers. 



After choosing my treatment, I was lead outside to one of the rooms overlooking the rice paddies, made very private but the surrounding greenery and flowers.  

As mentioned, we started with a massage, then a body scrub and then the flower bath but I had a few issues with the experience as a whole and that's what I'm here to share. 


Firstly, I was cold. lol. Bali isn't cold and this was the last thing I thought was going to be a problem but when you're covered in warm oil and there are no walls to catch the breeze it actually gets pretty chilly. 

Secondly, they insisted on running the bath whilst I was having my massage. So for the hour, I had the noise of running a bath in my ear and honestly, it made it really, really hard to relax.

Next, and this one is for the 'grammers. Once my massage was done and she was ready to leave me with my floral bath, she casually dropped that I have 20 minutes. Twenty minutes?! It takes longer than that to set the camera up how I wanted it, let alone take a good photo.

and the last, and probably most annoying thing? The bath was literally boiling hot - like scolding but I came for an instagram photo and I wasn't going to leave without one so I sucked it up and took the plunge. My poor red feet haha


All in, I'm glad I got to do it, and honestly, it did only cost me £12 so no big loss but that being said, I wouldn't go back and do it again, not there anyway - though I am keen to experience it somewhere else and see if they're all similar.

So would I recommend? yes, If you are looking to get your photos for the gram, without spending too much then yes - but just be aware that it's not always as it seems!

2019 Travel Roundup

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

This year has been an odd one. I wasn't sure I even wanted to write this post but I know how much I enjoy looking back at my travel round ups so I'm writing this for future me; but and also for present me, to remind myself that although I am finding things hard right now, this year hasn't been all bad.



I started 2019 in London with Jonny but it wasn't long before we were off to explore a little bit of Europe since he'd never been to this side of the world before.

Amsterdam 

Our first stop was Amsterdam and we decided to go by Eurostar - coming from New Zealand, he loved the idea of getting a train to another country so I went with it. With one day to ourselves, we managed to squeeze in a canal ride, the sex museum, a lot of pancakes and an evening wandering around the red light district.

The rest of our time was spent with his long lost family which was pretty cool - his granddad left the Netherlands for an adventure after the war and ended up in NZ. We spent loads of time with them over the next two days, going out to see the windmills, eating traditional dutch food and swapping stories of life of opposite sides of the world.



Rome

From Amsterdam we flew to Rome. I've actually been in the Capital a few times before but only on a cruise so I really enjoyed finally getting to explore the Colosseum and the Vatican. As well as that, it meant that we were actually there long enough to eat. Italy as a whole was a foodie highlight of the year for me!

Rome was a huge bargain because we were there in low season. Our 3 star hotel, a few minutes walk from the station, cost €160 for us both for 5 nights. On top of that, most resturants had amazing food deals on and we were going out for three course meals, plus a glass of prosecco for €12 each. It was awesome.



Venice

Having realised my love of land travel when I was in Southeast Asia, I decided to book us a train to our next stop - Venice. It's such a unique city but it was just too expensive and a little bit crowded for us. After we'd seen the church and wandered around the shops for a few hours, we didn't have too much left to spend. Luckily, one thing that was pretty cheap was the alcohol so we spent our evenings sat out on the Grande Canal eating pizza and drinking €2.50 cocktails.



London

We came back to London to regroup before our 5 weeks apart, since Jonny hadn't been home to see his parents for months. During our last week in London we did some more touristy bits, heading to south bank for the London eye and the aquarium, eating our way around Chinatown and wandering around Trafalgar square for what felt like hours looking for a statue that he wanted to see.



After Jonny went home, I stayed for another month or two and made the most of it by spending as much time as possible with my friends, family and Molly.

Brisbane 

After four months on the Gold Coast in 2018, we had decided to try somewhere new for the rest of our year in Australia. Somehow, we agreed on Brisbane and if I'm honest, it was a complete disaster, I hated it there so that didn't last long. As soon as Jonny arrived; a week after me, we got on a bus and went straight back to Surfers Paradise.

Between walking along the huge motorways and the worst jet lag of my life, I did manage to see a few bits of the city - like the man made beach and a couple of markets.



Surfers Paradise 

Australia is one of the best countries to live in for older people and it was also my favourite place to live in! Life back in Surfers was awesome. Jonny and I moved into a huge house that backed out on to the canal, in the perfect location, just down the road from where we lived before.

We made a bit more of an effort to see everything this time around too so there were more adventures from seeing my first kangaroos and koalas to hiking around Springbrook national park. Plus I managed to get an amazing job and made some new friends too.



Bali

It seemed such a waste to have to fly home from Australia and not stop off somewhere faraway on the way. With my friend Luke having some free time, we decided to head to Bali and chill out at a fancy air bnb for a week. Between Ubud, Canggu and Seminyak, we spent most of our time eating - because the food in Bali is so incredible.



Mediterranean Cruise

I came home in the middle of summer and really enjoyed it at the start but it wasn't long before I was itching to go away again. Luckily my next trip was only a month later.

It was our first family holiday in years and along with my parents and both of my brothers, we cruised around the Mediterranean for 12 nights, stopping off for a different adventure each day.


Thailand

After another few months back home, I was bored and ready for some more excitement so I booked a flight to Thailand and was off on my way the day after. It was a really hard time for me at home and if I'm honest, I was just running away.

I did however enjoy my two week escape and as per usual, I didn't want to come back at the end of it.



Birmingham

and of course the annual trip to the Birmingham Christmas market. Highlights from this years trips include visiting the worlds biggest Primark and dinner at the cutest christmassy restaurant by the canal for my dads birthday.



and now it's new years eve. How crazy. Sadly, this post hasn't been a happy one to write but whilst the last few months have been an actual living nightmare, it's getting better and I am slowly starting to feel hopeful again. I feel excited at the prospect of feeling better and I'm excited for whats to come in the next 12 months.

I have been very lucky to have had another year of travel and I hope that I am able to continue with this incredible lifestyle in 2020 but I also want it to be.. happier. Hopefully I'll be able to look back this time next year and say I've achieved that, and more. 

The most magical time to visit Chaing Mai

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Within days of arriving, Chiang Mai fast became my favourite destination in Southeast Asia. It's less crazy than Bangkok, the food is cheap and delicious and there is so much to do, making it an awesome destination year round; but having done this a few times now I can tell you will full confidence that plan your visit at the right time and you will experience this cultural town in northern Thailand at it's most magical.


Thailand has lots of festivals throughout the year and at the beginning of November, the country celebrates Loy Krathong. This is an enchanting festival by its own standard but celebrate it in Chiang Mai and you'll get to experience the wonders of Yi Peng the following day.

This year, the Loy Krathong celebrations started on the 10th November and Yi Peng, on 11th and 12th.

The whole city gets involved but as a backpacker, my favourite place to be is at Stamps backpacker hostel. I've stayed in 4 or 5 different hostels during my time in Chiang Mai and it is by far the best in terms for almost everything! Great location, comfortable accommodation but most importantly for me, the people who work there are the people who stay.



Loy Krathong loosely translates to 'to float a basket' and the festivities involve building an offering and floating it along the river to pay respect to the water spirits - and that's just what we did. Stamps organised all the bits and pieces we'd need and taught us how to create a traditional krathongs using a slice of tree trunk, folded banana leaves with toothpicks to keep them in place and flowers for decoration.


We walked down to the river as a big group, added a candle and three incense sticks to our krathongs and set them off along the river to join the hundreds of others floating downstream; there was something very Disney-esqu about the whole experience.



The next evening was the first night of Yi Peng, the lantern festival. The big celebrations happen on this day at the Mae Jo university which is about 15km out of town but to go to the actual ceremony, it costs hundreds of dollars so many people, including us gather by the river just outside. Stamps booked up coaches to take us there from Chiang Mai center and upon arriving, we bought lanterns and noodles at the street market and headed to the river bank to set them off by the water.

After writing our hopes and dreams on them, we lit the ring inside and waited for them to fill up with hot air. They're quite tricky to get right and require a few hands but it's a lot of fun to do together and it was great for group bonding.



By 8pm, the official ceremony started and all of a sudden, the sky opposite from where we were standing was full with thousands of lanterns; all launched into the sky at once. We all just stood there in awe, it was an absolutely magical sight.

And once they were far enough away, the fireworks started too.


This year, I missed last night of the festivities because I had plans in Bangkok but from my experience the first time around, this night is best spent in the city. With a big parade and the usual street market madness, there are people literally everywhere. Excited children and tourists who don't really know what they're mean that most of the lanterns got caught up in trees and fell to the ground in a big ball of flames so be wary if you do go out.

It was utter chaos if I'm honest but I loved every second!
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